Looking for direction? Proverbs!
by Pastor Scott
We are looking at the book of Proverbs for the next couple of months and I forgot how much I enjoy reading God’s words of wisdom. One verse I just read was Proverbs 24:27 which states, “Put your outdoor work in order and get your fields ready; after that, build your house.”
Now at first you may think I am getting at the fact that fall is in the air, it is harvest time and we need to get our outdoor activities done before winter sets in. But that is not quite where Solomon is going here. You may want to think about these words for a moment, “Necessities come before comforts.”
In the agrarian society of Israel, most men worked outside in the fields, either growing produce or tending flocks and herds. Cain and Abel represented the two main industries of their society – one tilled the ground, and one kept sheep (Gen 4:2). Each man had to choose one of these endeavors and become good at it to support his family.
What this verse in Proverbs is telling us is that a wise man tells his son there is a right order to a man’s life. He must identify his professional calling and establish himself before investing in the luxuries of life like a house, which consumes, rather than produces, income.
In the world in which we live, many people create hardship for themselves and their families by getting these two stages of life out of order. Most Americans are too impatient to follow Solomon’s rule. They want stuff right now. They want to drive a nice car before they even can afford it. They want their first house to be their best house. It is hard for many to wait and save up before buying. The fact is that we lack the self-discipline and humility to keep things in proper order.
Credit cards, installment debt, and easy mortgages seduce us into purchasing expensive items before we are ready professionally or financially. Foolish counselors compound the problem by letting us think we can afford something we cannot. I do love listening to Dave Ramsey and his 7 Baby Steps to show you how to save for emergencies, pay off all your debt for good, and build wealth. I cannot say that I have accomplished everything he teaches, but it is good advice and following his suggestions has helped me take some of the anxiety out of my life.
In Genesis 29 we read that Jacob worked seven years for Rachel. By then he had accumulated the basis for an estate and proven himself to his father-in-law. The dowry served this testing purpose for other men (Ex 22:16-17). Spendthrifts found it hard to marry good girls. Only young men with a successful trade and capital could marry Israel’s better daughters.
The book of Proverbs is full of God’s wisdom, but only if we are prepared to listen. Patient diligence is God’s plan, not only for financial success but success in life in general. We need to look to God’s word of truth to prepare our hearts to resist a world of “buy now, pay later.”
Jesus Christ kept the priorities of Proverb 24:27. First He prepared His work, performed it perfectly, and finished it. Then He began to build His house – the church (Matt 16:18), preparing a permanent place for His bride (John 14:2-3). Without the earlier sacrifice of His life, the church and heaven would be impossible and meaningless.
Jesus also calls us to do our own field work; to prepare our hearts and then invite the Holy Spirit, through Christ, to dwell in the temple of our hearts and minds. Talk to God about this, that it’s the simple things of the Christian life that determine our spiritual success. It is often the simplest wisdom that also pays the greatest dividends.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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